Brazilian metal band Sepultura barred from Lebanon 'for satanic music'

Brazilian metal band Sepultura barred from Lebanon 'for satanic music'
3 min read
21 April, 2019
Members of Sepultura, a world-famous metal band from Brazil, were denied artist visas to play a concert in Beirut, allegedly for producing 'satanic' music.
One of the band's concerts in Egypt was cancelled in 2016 [Redferns]
Brazilian metal band Sepultura have been banned from entering Lebanon after they were accused of being "devil worshippers", according to organisers, forcing them to cancel a planned gig in Beirut's Hamra district next Sunday.

Lebanon's General Security denied the group artist visas and "banned" them from entering the country, according to a statement made by Skull Session on Friday.

Skull Session, a regular organiser of metal events in Beirut, had organised for the band to come to Lebanon.

"We are as outraged and angry as all of you will be," read the statement.

Fans took to social media to express their anger with the "ban".

Many speculated the reason behind Sepultura being denied their visas was due to cultural perceptions of metal music as being "satanic" and "anti-religion".

"Wish they would know that Sepultura have a song in which they support Palestine and criticise Israel," wrote Sarah Harakeh. "But no, all what they care for is that it is simply not their musical taste."

Read more: Slave to Sirens: The Middle East's first all-woman metal band shreds gender norms

Skull Session told The New Arab that they had not been allowed to see the group's "ban order" but had been given information by officers who had seen the document.

"Basically what we learned is that they are considered devil worshipers, that they have disrespected Christianity, and that they have performed in Israel," Skull Session said.

"All of which are of course not true."

Skull Session told The New Arab that the band has not performed in Israel before, despite this apparent assumption. Travelers with Israeli stamps in their passports cannot enter Lebanon.

Despite apparently attracting Lebanon's ire, the band played a concert in Dubai two years ago without a hitch and is set to play the city again next month.

Lebanese metal musician Bassem Deaibess told The New Arab: "[This] begs the question: are the censorship overlords in Lebanon deliberately working to make Beirut the least touristic destination in the region and are actively helping Dubai to be the center of culture and arts in the Middle East?"

Metal fans in the Arab world are not strangers to such treatment.

Sepultura was set to play in Cairo three years ago when the Egyptian police abruptly cancelled the concert and arrested its organisers.

Egyptian media claimed that the concert was intended as a party for "devil worshippers", something the metal fans strongly denied.

Local metal bands have faced the same accusations in countries across the region, where government officials and Muslim and Christian representatives have attacked the genre.

In a FreeMuse essay, Jordanian metal fan Rami Abdel Rahman recalls the 1990s as a decade when metal cassettes had to be sold under the table and could be confiscated at any time. One metal band member, Abdel Rahman, says he was detained for two months and beaten.

The members of Saudi metal band Al-Namrood - whose songs have explicitly anti-religious lyrics - must stay anonymous for their own safety.

Iraqi metal band Acrassicauda faced death threats and violence from extremists in Baghdad and were forced to flee the country, eventually seeking asylum in the US.

In some countries, though, the region's small but dedicated group of metalheads have been able to carve out a supportive space for local and international bands, such as Lebanon's all-female Slave to Sirens.